Too Much Talk and Not Enough Play

Lebron-Curry Some Cavaliers have been a little too cavalier with their comments. And some warriors have been a little too wanton with their words. Both teams are posturing and showboating and mudslinging so much that you wonder if they will have anything left when the games begin. There’s been too much work with the mouth and not enough play with the muscles. Of course the Finals haven’t begun yet, so let the talking terminate and let the games begin.

Goliath was a big mouth, and nobody likes a big mouth. Goliath was a loud mouth, trash talkin’, tongue waggin’ somebody. And until David came along, he could back up what he said by what he did. But that all changed. Because David could out talk his taunter because of what his God could do.

Trash talking is and always has been a part of the game. Oft-times players brag and boast about what they are going to do on the court and on the field, yet, only 50% of all trash talkers can deliver; only one team can win the battle for the game, and by extension, the trash talk war.

David and the giant Goliath engaged in what we would call trash talk. “The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine said to David, ‘Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.’”

But David was unphazed.  He did not talk trash; he spoke by faith. “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.’ ”  1 Sam 17:43-47, RSV

So many of us talk a good game, and yet we don’t back up what we say.  We say one thing, and do another. In my book, that’s trash talk. We promise but we don’t deliver. That’s trash talk.  Indeed we over promise and under deliver.  That’s trash talk.  We purport and “front” and sell wolf-tickets, yet when it’s time to cash them in, we come up short. We talk loudly and proudly before the game, yet slink silently and pitifully on the sideline; after boasting and brandishing we live unseen and unheard lives and are unable to back up what we say.

Many doubt our faith and our Lord. They are trash talking us.  They are wolfing us down. And so the question is, what is our response to this doubting, doubtful, degenerate generation? Like Goliath they look down on us and decry us and our God. Can we backup everything we say?  Can we do everything we promise? As Christians, can we perform and can we deliver?

No worries. As long as we speak the Word of God, we have no fear of trash talkers. And our Champion and King can back up what he says. He will do just what He says! Contrary to Ali, Jesus Christ the righteous is truly the greatest. What He promises He is able also to perform. So let’s follow our Lord’s example.  Let’s say we’re going to do the right thing, and then let’s DO the right thing. No more saying one thing and doing another.   No more reneging on our word. No more trash talk.

Bring It On!

Kevin-Durant-Golden-State-Warriors

This is the Finals we’ve all been waiting for: The Warriors vs. the Cavaliers, and now the Warriors have KD, Kevin Durant. It’s Ali / Frazier III all over again.  And this time, Love and Kyrie aren’t hurt, and hopefully Draymond Green won’t get suspended. So both teams will be at full strength, and we’ll see who’s boss. 

As Kobe once said, “to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.” So if you think you’re all that and a bag of chips, you shouldn’t worry who you’re playing. When you’ve got confidence and conviction and assurance and assertion, it doesn’t matter who’s lining up on the other side of the ball.

And the same principle applies spiritually. We who trust in the God of Heaven shouldn’t be worried or concerned when we’re challenged or cornered or confronted or called out. We know we’ve got a God who will fight our battles. We’ve got a God who’s got our back and our front too. We’ve got a God who won’t back down or back up or give in or give out when we need Him most. We’ve got a God who’s not afraid of the enemy or the opposition. Not in the least.  When we have a problem or a glitch or a quandary or a conundrum, our God says “Bring it On!”  We just have to hold on and hold out and not give up.

So wake up! It’s time to watch NBA Finals, and these Finals should show some of the best basketball ever. And if I fall asleep during one of those late night games, it will be because it’s way past my bedtime, not because one team is playing bad ball. But the action and the excitement and the drama should be enough to keep me awake, right?

The plot is thick and subplots are plenty. Will Durant get his ever elusive championship ring after jumping ship and leaving the Thunder behind and joining the Warriors? Will LeBron win back-to-back championships in Cleveland, after starting his career there before jumping ship and going to the Heat to win two rings on South Beach?

And will these be the best Finals ever?

Bring it on.

You Are A No. 1 Pick

SI NBA Draft Pics

On this the evening of the NBA Draft Lottery, thoughts of being chosen and selected and overlooked and left out come to mind.  We all want to be a part and participate in something big and meaningful.  But we can’t get  there on our own. We all need to be selected.

 Think about it: only a small, rare, select few athletes are in the No. 1 Pick Club. And who was the biggest, baddest and best NBA No. 1 pick of them all? That’s fairly debatable.  Magic and Kareem and Shaq and Iverson (yes Iverson), and of course LeBron, come to mind. 

As for you and me, we need not lament if we were never picked first on the playground to play pickup games, or if even now if we’re not anyone’s favorite.  In the eyes of God, we all find grace and favor.

So never no mind what people say. You only need to know what God says about you. You are more than a conqueror through Him who loves us. You are the head and not the tail. You are strong in the Lord. You are a child of the King. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s own special selection. You are the light of the world and you are the salt of the earth.

In God’s eyes, first and foremost, you are His greatest love, joy and concern.

Derek Jeter: Baseball At Its’ Best?

Here’s my tribute to Derek Jeter, written two years ago. Jeter was honored this past Sunday night at Yankee Stadium. He was one of baseballs best.

God and Sports

Derek Jeter

Derek Sanderson Jeter just played in his last All Star Game and is playing in his 20th and final season with the only team he’s ever known. At the All Star Game he went 2 for 2 and was the darling of the dance. The incomparable heart beat of the Bronx Bombers, Jeter is the poster child of the pinstripe primadonas, and the captain of the team that captivates us all. Jeter’s team, the New Yankees, is the team that we love to hate, and Jeter is a player that we will hate to lose.

Jeter is the heart and soul and the modern “Pride” of the Yankees. He’s won five World Series rings, and lost 2. And the two he lost he hated to lose. And hating to lose, more so than loving to win, is his enduring legacy. His stats are stellar, but stats are only one thing…

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John Wall: Force A Game 7  

John Wall (2)John Wall and the Washington Wizards forced a Game 7 in the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals against the No. 1 Seed Boston Celtics.  This DC dandy is a fan favorite, and he reconfirmed his star status when he hit a three pointer with 3.5 seconds left on the clock. With this heroic effort, Wall and the Wiz are going back to Boston to decide the matter, once and for all.

Johnathan Hildred Wall Jr. was a NBA No. 1 draft pick in 2010, so he has a lot to live up to. This playoff year, with his team and his city on the ropes, Wall won with the weight the Washington sports world on his shoulders. And I’m happy for him.

Life is won and lost in distinct, decisive moments.  And Game 7 is one of those moments. Game 7 is when you find out what you’re made of. Game 7 is when stars are born and when memories are made.  For these reasons and many more, any and all sports fans worth their salt would pay a king’s ransom to be present at a Game 7 (at home, of course).

Life is not won or lost in abstraction. It’s won or lost under the microscope of the big stage. And to get to the big stage of Game 7, we all must win the majority of the 50/50 balls and most of questionable calls along the way.  

So when life pushes you to the brink and to the edge, push back.  Like Mandisa said, sometimes you have to “speak when you don’t have the floor and you have to go when you’re not invited.”  Boston could have/(should have?) won Game 6 on the road, but Wall and the Wiz had other plans. The same should go for you and me too. When life and living and circumstances and situations say that you should be over and done with, roundly object.

Force Game 7.

Don’t Let Your Fans Down

Charlotte Bobcats v Houston Rockets

James Harden let his fans down. He scored a measly 10 points in a Game 6 AT HOME when the playoff season was on the line. San Antonio was missing two of its superstars – Tony Parker AND Kawhi Leonard – and Houston and Harden still couldn’t muster enough mettle to win the game. And the worst part of it is, he played bad (badly for you English majors) and looked bad doing it. And his poor play in this seminal and signature game is another reason I’m not a James Harden fan.

Everybody has fans. Everybody has a fandom and a fan base and a fan nation that route and cheer us on and up and over the humps of life. These fans are crucial and critical to our psyche and our psychology; our fans are vital to our overall vitality and are essential for the state of our mind and the soundness of our soul.

That’s why we should never let our fans down. Even in defeat, loyal fans will cheer for you and chant your name and boost your game. But don’t let them down. Because fans have short fuses and long memories; while they will long remember your great game, after a dreadful loss, they will not soon forget that you are to blame.

Fans understand that nobody’s perfect and that everybody’s suspect. But when you don’t do your best or give your best or even TRY to play your best, you’ve done the worst thing imaginable in the eyes of your fans.

Your fans need to know that you’ve tried and that you’ve given it your best shot. While Harden had a sensational season, he had an uncharacteristically horrible last game of the series against the Spurs. And that’s what everyone, including this fan, will remember most.

So just remember, here’s what hardened athletes and every human heart beat have in common; it’s your friends and your favorites and your supporters and your sponsors that have your best interest at heart. They have your back. They will defend you against all comers (I’m from Philly so I DARE you to say a cross word about Allen Iverson!) But surely, I digress.

Loyal fans are the ones that will be there for you when the chips are down and the season is suddenly over. Remember not to forget and forestall the very fans you need to support you when the going gets rough.

So don’t let your fans down. At least they like you, bad days and bad games and all.

The Toronto Raptors: “Cooked, Glazed and Ready 2B Sliced”



The Cleaveland Cavaliers are up 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.  In other words, the Toronto Raptors are “
cooked, glazed and ready to be sliced.”  That’s basketball-speak and commentator lingo for “stick a fork ’em” because the Raptors are DONE!

The Raptors were in Game Three midway through the 3rd Quarter, and they actually had a small lead. But their best player, DeMar DeRozan, even with a career playoff high of 37 points, couldn’t do it all by himself. And the Raptors couldn’t separate and instead they began to oscillate between playing really good ball and playing really bad ball, and that is always a recipe for disaster.

And so the lesson is crystal clear once again. Don’t play hookey pookey with your life. One foot in and one foot out won’t cut it. Inconsistency is the mother of incongruity, and the grandchildren are bad habits, bad decisions, bad choices and bad results. 

So be all and give all and do all you can while you have the chance.  Because when you’re up you need not take it for granted.  Add to and pad your lead. Score when you have the advantage.  And don’t get lazy on defense.

Because wins don’t grow on trees, so don’t live like they do.